Caracas, January 31, 2022 (Special for OrinocoTribune.com)—On Sunday, January 30, signatories of the Montana Agreement elected the economist and former governor of the Bank of the Republic of Haiti, Fritz Alphonse Jean, as president for what they call “the transition period.” The procedure was orchestrated by the de facto rulers of Haiti, the Core Group.
The Core Group is made up of the ambassadors from the United States, France, Spain, Brazil, Germany, Canada, and the EU, as well as representatives from the UN and the Washington, DC-based Organization of American States (OAS). The Core Group does not govern Haiti directly; instead, its members exercise influence through the power of their diplomatic missions. The Core Group maintains control of all major political decisions in the country, including the controversial decision of appointing Ariel Henry as Jovenel Moïse’s successor.
Jean obtained 25 votes, 10 more than his opponent, the coordinator of the Struggling People’s Organization, Edgard Leblanc Fils. For his part, former senator Steven Benoît was elected as prime minister of the eventual provisional government, beating Jean Hénold Buteau, who heads the International Law Bureau, by 12 points.
The Haitian "commission" or the "Montana Accord" is getting way too much imperialist press, and too much blessing from white liberals. Either designated white savior of #Haiti Daniel Foote was sent to co-opt it or it was a front from the beginning. https://t.co/MmDdoIENJH
— Madame Boukman – Justice 4 Haiti 🇭🇹 (@madanboukman) December 9, 2021
The Montana Accord for a “breakthrough” transition was signed on August 30, 2021, and on December 12 the Montana Accord Monitoring Office (BSA) was created in the presence of businesspersons, parliamentarians including Senator Joseph Lambert, and members of “diplomatic missions,” along with the installation of the National Transitional Council (CNT).
The CNT, made up of 52 members, appointed by parties, political groups, and “civil society organizations,” is responsible for electing a provisional president and a prime minister, then validating the government’s structure and its composition, according to Haiti Libre, which also provided some foundational documents like the CNT members’ names and the agreement itself (in French). Only CNT members were in charge of the controversial “election.”
Montana Group's process was as open, transparent and participatory as the tightly controlled American electoral farce. There were two pre-selected presidential candidates approved by the US Embassy-Core Group cabal. #Haiti needs to stop playing colony and officialize it already. https://t.co/jiGPV5Ck78
— Madame Boukman – Justice 4 Haiti 🇭🇹 (@madanboukman) January 31, 2022
Montana Group calls for the establishment of a new government on February 7, to lead Haiti for a period of two years, allegedly to strengthen state institutions, carry out trials against embezzlers of public funds, and at the end of the period hold elections for all positions.
Haiti, even before the assassination of Jovenel Moïse, was already in a deep constitutional crisis. Moïse had exceeded his mandate and was seeking to amend the Constitution to stay in power longer, as denounced by many Haitian analysts.
During a televised interview with Telesur, Argentina-based Haitian analyst Robinson Glesile explained that the appointment of Jean was positive because Ariel Henry’s control of the country is too weak; that he lacks popular support due to his imposition by the international community (a euphemism for The Core Group). For the analyst, the Montana Accord decision was very significant because it constitutes an unprecedented agreement between “civil society,” political parties, and various significant actors in Haitian.
Ariel Henry’s legitimacy has been questioned since the beginning of his interim presidency. It is important to recall that he was not the first choice of the Core Group for interim president. Claude Joseph was initially chosen by the Core Group, and a few days later Joseph Lambert was appointed as provisional president, creating a vacuum of power that was filled with the appointment of Ariel Henry, the politician with the most legal credentials to succeed Moïse.
Opposition? Louisiana/Montana Accord interim president Fritz A. Jean and de facto PM Ariel Henry are members of the same political party, INITE. Here's Jean in 2016 as appointed interim PM under interim Jocelerme Privert. It's a big club and #Haiti's poor majority ain't in it. https://t.co/MknkTIcLLp pic.twitter.com/b9phMC2rKy
— Madame Boukman – Justice 4 Haiti 🇭🇹 (@madanboukman) January 31, 2022
Glesile was questioned intently by Telesur journalist Tatiana Perez, who found it difficult to comprehend why elections were not called, and instead new authorities are being imposed, deepening the political crisis in the island. Glesile was not able to provide a solid answer to the questions, other than insisting that the new “authorities'” role is to call for new elections in two years. He also drew attention to the lack of a credible electoral authority in Haiti. To this, Perez asked why, instead of selecting new “authorities” and worsening a political crisis, an appointment of a new electoral authority and a call for immediate elections was not prioritized.
For his part, Prime Minister Ariel Henry dismissed this establishment of another government with a transitional leader, and has expressed his belief that there is no legal or constitutional way to install a legitimate president without a proper election. Henry, who assumed power two weeks after the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, insists that the way forward is to hold elections and amend the Constitution.
Henry’s reputation has been further placed in question due to phone records made public the second week of January, allegedly detailing several calls between Ariel Henry and Joseph Badio, one of the main suspects in the assassination of Jovenel Moïse.
Phone records confirm that #Haiti's de facto puppet Prime Minister @DrArielHenry, who Jovenel Moïse was forced to appoint 2 days before he was assassinated, spoke several times with one of the main suspects Joseph Badio right after the killing, while Badio was near Moïse's home. pic.twitter.com/plyqbxOoet
— Madame Boukman – Justice 4 Haiti 🇭🇹 (@madanboukman) January 16, 2022
Madame Boukman, a popular commentator on Haitian issues, posted several tweets linking the Montana Accord with the Core Group. In addition, she criticized media hype about a potential political confrontation between Ariel Henry and Fritz Jean. “Opposition?” she wrote. “Louisiana/Montana Accord interim president Fritz A. Jean and de facto PM Ariel Henry are members of the same political party, INITE.”
Henry was installed in the position with the consent of the international community, and recently received the support of the governments of the United States, Canada and France. However, Madame Boukman also sees the hand of the Core Group behind the Montana Accord. Some experts are recommending an investigation of the CNT’s members, particularly those from “civil society,” to inspect the financing of NGOs involved, in order to determine a more accurate picture of the CNT’s independence.
Meanwhile, the Haitian people have been left to deal with a catastrophic economic situation worsened by unprecedented levels of violence, which many continue to blame on the legacy of the Moïse regime, in addition to natural calamities that have hit the island in recent months. The fresh international interference by the Core Group is making it increasingly difficult to find a solution. On the contrary, the interventionist powers seem intent to impose the World Economic Forum’s neoliberal multistakeholder scheme which, as might be expected, is causing more problems than solutions.
Featured image: Protester in Haiti taking a selfie with burning fires in the background. File photo by Odelyn Joseph/AP/DPA.
Special for Orinoco Tribune by Jesús Rodríguez Espinoza
Jesús Rodríguez-Espinoza is an expert in international relations, Venezuelan politics and communication. He served for several years as Consul General of Venezuela in Chicago (United States) and prior to that he was part of the foundational editorial team of the website Aporrea.org. He is founder and editor of the Venezuelan independent and anti-imperialist website Orinoco Tribune.
Jesús Rodríguez-Espinoza#molongui-disabled-linkMarch 5, 2021